Monday, September 20, 2010

Sweet Corn-u-copia

Sweet corn is one of Terry's favorite crops.  It's big, fast-growing, easily recognizable, and reminds him of the rural farm fields of his childhood.  Oh, and it tastes really good too.  Summer BBQ's aren't the same without corn on the cob, buttery fingers, and kernels stuck in your teeth. 

This year we grew two varieties of sweet corn, Peaches-and-Cream and Trinity.  Both are bicolor which means they have yellow and white kernels.  We have grown Peaches-and-Cream the past few years and loved it.  Trinity was new for us.  

Trinity is a short season variety and therefore has shorter stalks and smaller ears.  Trinity started to ripen about two to three weeks before Peaches-and-Cream, so between the two varieties we were able to pick corn from early August to mid-September.  We had a couple of wind storms that blew several stalks over into the sidewalk.  The ears weren't mature yet, so we cut off the top of the stalks that were trip hazards and left the rest to mature.  The ears still ripened even though the stalks were laid over.  

Another issue we had with corn was bugs.  There were quite a few black aphids on the leaves and tassels.  We weren't sure what the organic treatment would be, so we let it go and found that ladybugs were all over it.  They laid eggs which hatched into voracious aphid-eating larva.  The other pest that liked our corn was earwigs.  They like to hide under the outer leaves of the husks.  I dealt with them by peeling the outer husk and shaking the earwigs out as I picked the ears.  Terry brought the whole ears in the house and squished the earwigs in the sink as he peeled the ears.

You know your ears of corn are getting close to pick when the silk browns out.  You can peel back the husk to check to see if the kernels are plump and the right color.  You can pop a kernel with your thumbnail and the juice should be milky and not clear.  Don't wait too long to pick your corn past maturity because the sugars will turn from sweet to starchy.  The kernels will also become tough.  Once this happens the corn is best used in soups or casseroles.           

We like the eat corn simply on the cob with or without butter.  I boil up a big pot of water, add the cobs, and cook for exactly three minutes.  They always come out perfect.  I ended up liking the flavor the Trinity better than Peaches-and-Cream.  It was sweeter and more tender.  We'll definitely plant more Trinity next year.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Diggin' Potatoes

There is nothing more fun than harvesting a crop that has been growing underground for six months.  You never know what you're going to get.

  Back in February & March we carefully selected seed potatoes.  Due to limited space, we had to debate the virtues of each variety and decide how many of each type to grow.  Terry loves Russets, I don't.  I wanted to try Russian fingerlings, he was skeptical.  I definitely wanted Yukon Golds, Terry wanted more Russets.  I don't care for Purples, but we had some good looking Purple tubers from last year that were sprouted and ready to go.  We both like Reds.

After the potatoes plants flower, you can start digging for young potatoes, carefully rooting around with your hand in the soil.  I learned that I loved Russian Fingerlings.  Terry did too.  I don't think Terry met a potato he didn't like.  Russian Fingerlings have a waxy flesh and they are narrow and knobby like fingers.  Great for nuking and then grilling to finish them off.  
To get a crop to store in the cellar, wait until the plants die back completely, which means that the skins have matured.  Even though we've been eating potatoes for a couple months, we still had 88 lbs to squirrel away for Fall.    

Note: wear gloves if you're going to use you hands to harvest your potatoes.  There is nothing more painful than having the skin pull away from under most of your fingernails and then having dirt shoved way up in there.

Thank You!

We've had a wonderful response from the community to the Newspaper article.  Just want to thank everyone for their support and encouragement.

So, what is growing in your garden?  Would you like your garden to be featured on the The Tacoma Kitchen Garden Journal.  Email photos & comments to me at

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Late Summer Harvest

This Summer was much cooler than last year, so many of our warm weather crops were not very happy.  It was mid-August before we got some ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, and corn.

Cal Wonder Bell Peppers, Hungarian Wax Peppers, Asian Eggplant

Zucchini & Crookneck Squash with Hydrangea Limelight
We planted just the right amount of Summer squash this year- 1 Zucchini, 1 Crookneck, 2 Scallop.  We have enough to eat and give to neighbors without feeling overwhelmed.

Our Tri-star Strawberries took forever to start producing.  There was a lot of malformed and undeveloped fruit that I had to pick off before the plants would put out new flowers.  Then it took a stretch of warm weather before the new fruit would form. 

Another great Frost Peach year except that many of the pits were split due to cool weather during the blooming period.  There were also earwigs in some of the fruit and moldy spots.  I did eat my fill of peaches and still had some for the freezer.

We grew tons of onions this year (at least 100).  They did fabulous.  The only problem is that we mixed Walla Wallas with yellows and now we can't tell the difference between the two.  Yellows store well and Walla Wallas don't.  Now we just have to find homes for all the extras.

We got flowers, but no beans yet.  However our neighbor shared hers with us.  Yay!